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Fourth-grader acts as Carpenter Nature Center’s director for a day

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Charlie Vier, 10, and Jennifer Vieth at the Carpenter Nature Center. (Star Gazette photo by Michelle Wirth)2 / 3
Wendy Hill, a volunteer at Carpenter Nature Center, shows Charlie a captured song sparrow. (Star Gazette photo by Michelle Wirth)3 / 3

Last Friday Carpenter Nature Center welcomed Charlie Vier, 10, a fourth-grader from McAuliffe Elementary, as junior director for the day. He was awarded the opportunity after he won a contest at his school with an essay about how to help the environment. His essay is reprinted below.

Jennifer Vieth, executive director at Carpenter Nature Center, said the director-for-a-day program is in its second year and a way for kids to see what goes on during a day.

“It was a fun way for us to get kids that are really interested in a career in environmental management a chance to get hands on (experience),” Vieth said.

Vieth said one of the highlights of the day is bird banding: catching birds, wrapping an identifying band around the bird’s leg and then releasing them. There were retired teachers, educators and other volunteers at the bird banding event. It was Charlie’s first time bird banding.

“I think it’s really fun because you can track and see where they’ve gone,” Charlie said about the birds.

Charlie had the opportunity to catch some of the birds with the help of nature center volunteers. He said his favorite was the American Goldfinch. He learned that the bird was male because of its yellow color; if it were female, it would have been an olive color. Jim Fitzpatrick, director emeritus of Carpenter Nature Center, even showed Charlie how to release the bird after banding him.

Vieth said the rest of the day consisted of a fun lunch at Dairy Queen with some of the nature center’s staff and an afternoon hiking on CNC trails.

“We don’t make them do as much paperwork as a real director’s job, we do more fun things,” she joked.

Vieth said it is fun to see kids that are fired up about making a difference in the environment and it’s fun for her to share the fun parts of her job with someone who might consider it as a career in the future. She said she hopes to give kids like Charlie the idea that they can do something like be a nature center director one day.

“...unless you get encouragement young, you might think ‘Oh, well I can’t do that,’” Vieth said, “but my goal would be for all these young guys to be vying to take my job as soon as I’m ready to retire.”

Charlie’s essay

From a young age and still today, I have always enjoyed nature such as frogs, salamanders, turtles and tadpoles. I would hate to watch them become extinct from loss of food and pollution so I want to make a difference and this is what I have to say.

I can use less water while brushing my teeth. I can reduce the amount of plastic water bottles I use by using reusable ones. I can recycle more things instead of throwing them away. Also, I can reduce the amount of trash I throw away so I don’t create more trash.

My family and I can shut the lights off if we aren’t using them. My family can walk to the store rather than driving so we don’t add to the greenhouse effect. Also we can encourage each other not to waste things such as paper, plastic bags, and food.

My school can build gardens and use the food we throw away to make the soil rich and healthy. My school can take care of the gardens and harvest the food from them so we don’t have to buy the fruits and vegetables that have had chemicals put on them because it is bad for us and the environment. My school can help reduce the amount of paper towels we use by telling others only to use one not five. I think our school could respect the environment better by having more trees so they can suck up the carbon dioxide and give out oxygen.

Our earth has been getting hotter since the 1970s and these simple tasks can make a big difference if we all follow them. So try to do some of them today!

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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